The Powerpuff Girls

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The Powerpuff Girls
Pink letters reading "The Powerpuff Girls" against a blue background, with the words "created by Craig McCracken" written underneath the logo in black.
Genre Superhero
Action/Adventure
Format Animated series
Created by Craig McCracken
Written by Craig McCracken
Jason Butler Rote
Amy Keating Rogers
Chris Savino
Cindy Morrow
Directed by Craig McCracken
John McIntyre
Randy Myers
Lauren Faust
Genndy Tartakovsky
Robert Alvarez
Rob Renzetti
Chris Savino
Voices of Catherine Cavadini
Tara Strong
E.G. Daily
Tom Kane
Tom Kenny
Jennifer Martin
Jennifer Hale
Roger L. Jackson
Rob Paulsen
Jeff Bennett
Jim Cummings
Chuck McCann
Narrated by Tom Kenny
Theme music composer James L. Venable
Thomas Chase
Stephen Rucker
Manda Rin
Steven Clark
John Clark[disambiguation needed]
Opening theme "The Powerpuff Girls (Main Theme)" by James L. Venable
Ending theme "The Powerpuff Girls (End Theme)" by Bis
Composer(s) James L. Venable
Thomas Chase
Stephen Rucker
Manda Rin
Steven Clark
John Clark[disambiguation needed]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 78 (136 segments) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Craig McCracken
Producer(s) Genndy Tartakovsky
Chris Savino
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Cartoon Network Studios (1998–2004)
Broadcast
Original channel Cartoon Network
Picture format 4:3 SDTV
16:9 HDTV (specials)
Audio format Dolby Surround (Season 3–4)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (Season 5–6)
Mono (1–2)
Original run November 18, 1998 (1998-11-18) – March 25, 2005 (2005-03-25)[1][2]
Chronology
Related shows Powerpuff Girls Z[3]
What a Cartoon![4]
External links
Website

The Powerpuff Girls is an American animated television series created by animator Craig McCracken and produced by Cartoon Network Studios for Cartoon Network. The show centers on Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, three girls with superpowers, as well as their "father", the brainy scientist Professor Utonium, who all live in the fictional city of Townsville, USA. The girls are frequently called upon by the town's childlike and naive mayor to help fight nearby criminals using their powers.

McCracken originally developed the show in 1992 as a cartoon short entitled Whoopass Stew! while in his second year at CalArts. Following a name change, Cartoon Network featured the first Powerpuff Girls pilots in its animation showcase program World Premiere Toons in 1995 and 1996. The series made its official debut as a Cartoon Cartoon on November 18, 1998,[1] with the final episode airing on March 25, 2005.[2] A total of 78 episodes were aired in addition to two shorts, a Christmas special, a feature film. In addition, a tenth anniversary special was made in 2008. A CGI special was also made in 2014 without McCracken's input. Additionally, the series has been nominated for six Emmy Awards, nine Annie Awards, and a Kids' Choice Award during its run. Spin-off media include an anime, three CD soundtracks, a home video collection, and a series of video games, as well as various licensed merchandise. The series has received generally positive reception and won four awards. On June 16, 2014, Cartoon Network announced that the series will be rebooted and is scheduled to air sometime in 2016.

Overview

The Powerpuff Girls revolves around the adventures of Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. Each of the girls has a color: Blossom is pink, Bubbles is blue, and Buttercup is green. The plot of a typical episode is some humorous variation of standard superhero and tokusatsu fare, with the girls using their powers to defend their town from villains and giant monsters. In addition, the girls have to deal with normal issues young children face, such as sibling rivalries, loose teeth, personal hygiene, going to school, bed wetting, or dependence on a security blanket. Episodes often contain more or less hidden references to older pop culture (especially noticeable in the episode "Meet the Beat Alls," having been an homage to the Beatles). The cartoon always tries to keep different ideas within each episode with some small tributes and parodies thrown in.[5]

The setting of the show is mainly the city of Townsville, USA. Townsville is depicted as a major American city, with a cityscape consisting of several major skyscrapers. In his review of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, movie critic Bob Longino of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said, "the intricate drawings emanate 1950s futuristic pizzazz like a David Hockney scenescape," and that the show is "one of the few American creations that is both gleeful pop culture and exquisite high art."[6]

Characters

The Powerpuff Girls – Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup
The Powerpuff Girls: Bubbles (left), Blossom (middle), and Buttercup (right)

As depicted in the opening sequence of each episode, the Powerpuff Girls were created by Professor Utonium in an attempt "to create the perfect little girls" using a mixture of "sugar, spice, and everything nice" (shown in respective fields of baby blue, light green, and pink). However, he accidentally spilled a mysterious substance called "Chemical X" into the mixture, creating, instead of the "perfect little girl", three girls (each possessing one of the above elements dominating her personality), and granting all three superpowers including flight, super strength, super speed, near invulnerability, x-ray vision, super senses, heat vision, and energy projection. In the original plot, the accidental substance was a can of "Whoopass", which was replaced by "Chemical X" in the aired version.[7]

The three girls all have oval-shaped heads, abnormally large eyes (inspired by Margaret Keane's art[8]), stubby arms and legs, and lack noses, ears, fingers, necks, and flat feet with 4 toes (McCracken preferred them to look more symbolic of actual girls rather than going for a realistic look, meaning fewer details were added.[9]). They wear dresses that match the colors of their eyes with black stripes, as well as white stockings and black Mary Janes. They do not have secret identities. The closing theme to the cartoon offers a nutshell description of the three Powerpuff Girls' personalities: Blossom, commander and the leader. Bubbles, she is the joy and the laughter. Buttercup, 'cause she's the toughest fighter.

  • Blossom (voiced by Catherine Cavadini) is the tactician and self-proclaimed leader of the Powerpuff Girls. Her personality ingredient is "everything nice", her signature color is pink, and she has long red hair with a red bow. She was named for having spoken freely and honestly to the Professor shortly after her creation as shown in the Powerpuff Girls Movie. She is often seen as the most level-headed, and composed member of the group and also strong and determined.[10] Her unique power is freezing objects with her breath as seen in the episode "Ice Sore".
  • Bubbles (voiced by Tara Strong in the series and by Kath Soucie in the What-a-Cartoon! episodes) is the cute and sensitive one. Her personality ingredient is sugar, her signature color is blue, and she has short blonde hair in two pigtails. Bubbles is seen as kind and very sweet but she is also capable of extreme rage and can fight monsters just as well as her sisters can.[10] Her best friend is a stuffed octopus doll she calls "Octi", and she also loves animals. She exhibits the ability to both understand foreign languages such as Spanish, and communicate with various animals (squirrels, cats, monsters), and her unique power is emitting supersonic waves with her voice.
  • Buttercup (voiced by E.G. Daily) is the toughest of the three. Her personality ingredient is spice, her signature color is green, and she has short black hair in a flip. She is a tomboy, who loves to get dirty, fights hard, and plays rough, she does not plan and is all action.[10] Buttercup is the only Powerpuff Girl without a unique super power (aside from being able to curl her tongue as shown in the episode "Nuthin' Special").[11] McCracken originally wanted to name the character "Bud" until a friend suggested the name Buttercup.[4]

Production

During Craig McCracken's first year in the character animation program of CalArts,[12] he created a series of short cartoons based on a character called No Neck Joe.[4] In June 1991 he created a drawing of three girls on a small sheet of orange construction paper as a birthday card design for his brother.[4][13] The following year he included the three girls as the main characters of his short film Whoopass Stew! The Whoopass Girls in: A Sticky Situation.[14] Initially McCracken wanted to animate four Whoopass Girls shorts, but only one came to be.[4] McCracken's shorts were selected to be shown at Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation in 1994.[14][15] While working on 2 Stupid Dogs in 1993, McCracken's Whoopass Girls short was picked up for a series by Cartoon Network; however, the name Whoopass had to be dropped for the channel to include it as part of its new What a Cartoon! animated shorts showcase. The Whoopass Girls then became The Powerpuff Girls, and the "can of whoop ass" was renamed "Chemical X".[4] McCracken's new short, entitled "The Powerpuff Girls in: Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins", aired as part the network's World Premiere Toon-In on February 20, 1995.[16] The short initially did not do well with test audiences, and the network instead greenlit Dexter's Laboratory, a project McCracken and former classmate Genndy Tartakovsky (who also directed many episodes of Powerpuff Girls) worked on together.[4][17] Cartoon Network executive Mike Lazzo allowed McCracken to produce a new Powerpuff Girls short titled "Crime 101", which aired on What a Cartoon! in early 1996. Announcer Ernie Anderson, the narrator of the pilot episodes, died of cancer in 1997, and he was replaced by Tom Kenny for the remainder of the series.[18]

The Powerpuff Girls series debut on November 18, 1998, was the highest rated premiere in Cartoon Network's history at the time. The series consistently scored the highest rating each week for the network across a wide range of demographics—from young children to adults.[7] In October 2000, Cartoon Network credited The Powerpuff Girls for its Friday night prime time ratings win among cable networks.[19] By the end of 2000, merchandising based on The Powerpuff Girls encompassed a whole variety of products, including T-shirts, toys, video games, lunchboxes, and dishware.[7] Concerning The Powerpuff Girls success, Craig McCracken has stated, "I thought it would get on Cartoon Network and college kids would watch it and there would be a few random T-shirts out there in the rave scene or in record shops. But I had no idea that it would take off to this extent."[7] Following the series' fourth season, McCracken left The Powerpuff Girls to focus on his new animated series, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, leaving Chris Savino to take his place.[4] The show's last original run episode was on March 25, 2005; in all six seasons were made.[20] Cartoon Network had offered to give McCracken and Savino a seventh season of The Powerpuff Girls, but they believed the series had run its course.[4]

All of the original episodes were hand-drawn and produced at Rough Draft Studios in South Korea,[21] except the What a Cartoon! shorts, with the first one being animated at Animal House in Japan and the second being animated at Fil Cartoons in the Philippines. James L. Venable composed the opening theme of the series, and Scottish band Bis performed the ending theme song,[22] as played during the credits. The opening theme uses a sped-up drum break sample of "Funky Drummer" performed by Clyde Stubblefield.[23]

Tenth anniversary special

In August 2008, McCracken revealed on his DeviantArt account, as had been announced in that year's Comic Con, that he was working with Cartoon Network on a new half-hour Powerpuff Girls special to celebrate the series' tenth anniversary.[24] The special, titled "The Powerpuff Girls Rule!!!", aired on the Pan-Euro Cartoon Network on November 29, 2008, on the Powerpuff Girls Birthday Marathon, and in the United States on January 19, 2009, as part of its 10th anniversary marathon. Unlike previous episodes in the series, the anniversary special was animated using Adobe Flash at Cartoon Network Studios.[25] In March 2012, the series returned to Cartoon Network in reruns on the revived block, Cartoon Planet.[26]

2014 special

The Powerpuff Girls in CGI format.

On January 28, 2013, a new CGI special titled The Powerpuff Girls: Dance Pantsed was announced to premiere that year, though it was later delayed to January 20, 2014.[27] The former Beatle Ringo Starr promoted the special on Cartoon Network singing a new original song "I Wish I Was a Powerpuff Girl" with previews leading up to the airdate. Ringo also voiced a new character named Fibonacci Sequins in the episode.[28] The special was directed by Dave Smith, who directed episodes for the series in the past, and featured the original cast members reprising their roles.[29] This Powerpuff Girls special marked the first time that series creator Craig McCracken had no input.[30] The episode's plot has Mojo Jojo kidnap Fibonacci along with an opera singer and a badger. The girls rescue all of them, and defeat Mojo yet again with his kidnapping plan. Not deterred he then goes on to invent an evil video game called "Dance Pants R-EVILution" to take over Townsville.[31] Common Sense Media gave the special 3/5 stars citing the "tasteful update of the original animation style" however recommends it for older kids around the age of 7.[32] The episode received mostly positive reviews. GON (Geeked Out Nation) gave the show a B rank and said "It still carried to be a good special with the return of the characters that many of us grew up too" while they said that the special has few flaws.[33] Den Of Geek gave the special a 2.5 out 5 said "The Powerpuff reboot needs those paddles to jump-start it. I want more. But I want better."[34]

Reboot

On June 16, 2014, Cartoon Network announced plans to reboot the series in 2016.[35]

Reception

The Powerpuff Girls has met with generally positive response from critics and fans. In a 2000 Entertainment Weekly review, Marc Bernadin complimented the show on its "spot-on pop-culture acumen" and "unparalleled sense of fun", giving it a warm welcome from earlier "lame" superhero cartoons that he grew up with.[36] Peter Marks of The New York Times noted the show's use of adult humor and pop culture references, declaring it "the sort of playful satire that can appeal as much to a viewer of 37 as 7."[37] Joly Herman of Common Sense Media describes the show as a "cute, highly stylized series thrills the senses with its strange characters, funny situations, and lots of lowbrow humor". She goes on to say, however, that the show does go from innocent to violent in no time and that there is not much protecting young viewers against the violent undertones.[38] Robert Lloyd of the LA Times said that the series might be "transgressive" based on the violence but "also cute".[39] TV Guide chose The Powerpuff Girls as No. 17 in a list of the 50 Greatest cartoon characters of all time.[40] IGN ranked the series 18th in its Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time list in 2006.[41] Delta Express also promoted the series by having a Boeing 737-200 jet painted with a special livery featuring the characters Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup on the exterior.[42] The plane's inaugural flight was held at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 17, 2000.[43] In 2002 the aircraft was repainted with a different Powerpuff Girls theme to promote The Powerpuff Girls Movie.[44] The Powerpuff Girls series has won two Primetime Emmys, two Annie Awards, and including those four wins, has been nominated a total of sixteen times for various awards.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
1999 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production[45] Craig Kellman
for "Uh Oh Dynamo"
Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television Production[45] John McIntyre
for "Mommie Fearest"
Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production[45] Tara Charendoff (Tara Strong)
as Bubbles
Nominated
Primetime Emmys Outstanding Achievement in Animation[46] Craig McCracken, John McIntyre, Amy Keating Rogers, Jason Butler Rote, and Genndy Tartakovsky
for "Bubblevicious/The Bare Facts"
Nominated
2000 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Television Production[47] Chris Savino
for "Dream Scheme"
Nominated
Primetime Emmys Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation[48] Don Shank
for "Twisted Sister/Cover Up"
Won
Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less)[48][49] Robert Alvarez, Craig McCracken, John McIntyre, Randy Myers, Amy Keating Rogers, and Genndy Tartakovsky
for "Beat Your Greens/Down 'N Dirty"
Nominated
2001 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music Score an Animated Television Production[50] James L. Venable, Thomas Chase, and Steve Rucker
for "Meet the Beat Alls"
Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production[50] Don Shank Won
Primetime Emmys Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)[48][51] Robert Alvarez, Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, John McIntyre, Amy Rogers, and Genndy Tartakovsky
for "Moral Decay/Meet the Beat Alls"
Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon[52] The Powerpuff Girls Nominated
2002 Annie Awards Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Television Production[53] Paul Rudish
for "Members Only"
Nominated
2003 Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Television Production[54] Andy Bialk
for "Save Mojo"
Nominated
2004 Annie Awards Character Design in an Animated Television Production[55] Chris Reccardi
for "West in Pieces"
Nominated
Primetime Emmys Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour Or More)[56][57] Robert Alvarez, Lauren Faust, et al.
for "'Twas the Fight Before Christmas"
Nominated
2005 Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation[48] Frank Gardner
for "West in Pieces"
Won

Merchandise and media

Anime and manga

Main article: Powerpuff Girls Z

In April 2005, plans for a Japanese anime version, Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z, were announced.[58] The series premiered in Japan the following year with 52 half-hour episodes, airing each Saturday from July 1 to December 23, 2006, and from January 6 to June 30, 2007. The series deviated from its American predecessor in terms of style, storyline, and characterization, but only minimally retained the essential themes that made the original a success.[59] The characters feature three junior high school students Momoko Akadutsumi (Hyper Blossom), Miyako Gotokuji (Rolling Bubbles), and Kaoru Matsubara (Powered Buttercup) as the three heroines.[60] A manga adaptation, illustrated by Shiho Komiyuno, was serialized in Shueisha's Ribon magazine between June 2006 and July 2007.[61]

Film

The Powerpuff Girls Movie was released in the United States on July 3, 2002, by Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network.[62] The movie, a prequel to the series tells the story of how the Powerpuff Girls were created, and how Mojo Jojo became a supervillain. After the girls were created by Professor Utonium to help the city against crime, they end up only causing chaos in Townsville. Down about how everyone refers to them as freaks, they turn to Mojo Jojo, a monkey who says he is there to help make people like them again. Unknown to the girls, Mojo Jojo was Professor Utonium's lab chimp helper who was mutated as a cause from the Powerpuff Girls being made and has become super smart as a result and jealous of them. Mojo Jojo ends up tricking the girls into helping him make a machine to mutate other chimps. Seeing what they have done the girls run away in shame but come back after seeing Professor Utonium in trouble, and they end up beating Mojo Jojo and his army of mutated smart chimps and saving the day, thus becoming Townsville's new defenders.[63]

The movie received mixed to positive reviews with a rating of 63% at Rotten Tomatoes;[64] however, it did receive some controversy for the violence involved.[65] In all, the movie grossed $16 million worldwide with an $11 million budget.[66]

Music CDs

Three CD soundtracks were officially released for the series. The first, entitled Heroes & Villains, features original songs about the Powerpuff Girls characters by a number of artists, including the New Wave group Devo, Bis, The Apples in Stereo, and Frank Black.[67] The first album did well topping the Billboard's children's music chart for six weeks.[5] Another album entitled The City of Soundsville features electronica-style character themes and also did well with critics.[68][69] The third album entitled Power Pop features a more teen-oriented variety of pop songs. The album was considered a "big disappointment" and not received as well.[70]

Parodies and comics

A crossover parody of The Powerpuff Girls and 2 Broke Girls was done in Cartoon Network's TV series MAD's second season known as "2 Broke Powerpuff Girls". The parody which aired on January 30, 2012, is of Bubbles and Buttercup, who are broke and work for "Him" in a diner after the show got placed on permanent hiatus. Tara Strong (Bubbles) and Tom Kane ("Him") reprised their roles here.[71] The MAD episode with the parody ranked #26/30 for the week with 1.903 million viewers.[72] In February 2013, IDW Publishing announced a partnership with Cartoon Network to produce comics based on its properties. The Powerpuff Girls was one of the titles announced to be published.[73]

A fan-produced webcomic series called PowerPuff Girls Doujinshi was created in 2004 and released through Snafu Comics. The girls are shown to be a bit older than, but with the same personalities as, their T.V. counterparts, and the comic includes many characters from other cartoon shows. The story has the girls now going to school in a neighboring city of Townsville known as Megaville.[74] The comic was the "Outstanding Superhero Comic" and "Outstanding Character Art" winner on the Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards in 2005.[75]

Shortly after the 2014 CGI special's release, a comic which was published by IDW Publishing was withdrawn after retailers complained that they wanted to boycott the issue. The comic, which shows The Powerpuff Girls with breasts, and dressed in latex was designed by an artist who works for Cartoon Network. The artist was "thinking of it more along the lines of 'female empowerment' than the kind of thing you guys are talking about". Cartoon Network said in a statement: "We recognise some fans' reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops."[76]

Toys

From August 21 to October 1, 2000, Subway promoted the series with four toys in their kids' meals.[77] A set of six kids' meal toys was available as part of an April 2001 Dairy Queen promotion, which also included a sweepstakes offering the Powerpuff Girls VHS Boogie Frights.[78] Jack in the Box released six Powerpuff Girls toys in July 2002 as a tie-in for The Powerpuff Girls Movie.[79] On February 10, 2003, Burger King began a four-week promotion featuring The Powerpuff Girls and Dragon Ball Z toys as well as special codes to redeem online for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Orbit.[80]

Video games

Video games were made for The Powerpuff Girls all being action in genre. The Powerpuff Girls: Bad Mojo Jojo, released on November 14, 2000, follows Blossom as she tries to beat Mojo Jojo.[81] The game was called "simple and boring" by GameSpot and was a failure critically.[82][83] The Powerpuff Girls: Paint the Townsville Green, another game released in November 2000, follows Buttercup as she fights crime.[84] The Powerpuff Girls: Battle HIM follows Bubbles in her fight against HIM and was released in February 2001.[85] The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-traction was released in October 2001, where the girls battle enemies in a variety of settings in order to reclaim Chemical X and track down Mojo Jojo, who fed the material to all the villains in Townsville. IGN gave the game a positive review while giving the PSone version a 2.0/10 bad review.[86][87] The Powerpuff Girls: Relish Rampage was released in November 2002. All three girls are playable in a 3D world, and the game received mixed reviews.[88] The Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jojo A-Go-Go released in 2001 centers around the name of the Powerpuff Girls' mission to stop Mojo Jojo and his minions. The game received mixed reviews.[89][90] PC games were also made for the series. These include: The Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jojo Clone Zone, The Powerpuff Girls: Princess Snorebucks, The Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jojo's Pet Project, and The Powerpuff Girls: Gamesville.[91][92][93][94]

See also

References

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